The GR8 emergence of WEB slang

WEBslang

Rekt? Bae? Lordt?  Fleek? I bet you do not know any of these words. Do not feel too bad.  I did not know what these words meant before I took this language quiz on trendy phrases. While we are on the subject, is it possible that the written language emerged when the World Wide Web and social media entered the picture? These shortened phrases are trending across texts, emails, and social websites such as Facebook and Twitter.  Whether people are on mobile devices or computers, words like rekt and bae are inspired because of rage-inducing games or describing one’s love interest.  This might be a small group of popular words used across the web, but there are huge libraries and sub-categories of phrases similar to these. These up-to-the-minute abbreviations are all a part of the internet slang, and it has become its own language that continuously changes the written language of today.

According to Know your meme, Internet slang “consists of a number of different ways of speaking, sub-languages, expressions, spelling techniques and idioms that have obtained most of their meaning on the Internet.” Many sub-languages and techniques of Internet slang include shortened acronyms, emoticons, letter repetition, flaming, and so much more:

tldrwikipedia        jontron

The phrases rekt and bae fit under the acronym category because they are shortened versions of “wrecked” and “before anyone else”. The sub-languages of internet slang will appeal to a variety of users, and still makes a huge impact on the online community. But with internet slang being such a diverse and gargantuan encyclopedia, how is it a pop culture piece in the 21st  century?

What makes internet slang unique is that it is constantly being modified. Depending on the popularity of  newfangled phrases, they will do two of the following: become a fad and fade out instantaneously, or will live on and become part of the written language. One word in particular that hit the mainstream is “YOLO”. Meaning “You Only Live Once”, YOLO was prominent in the song “The Motto” by the rapper Drake featuring Lil Wayne in 2011.

Disclaimer: “The Motto” may contain language or visuals that may not be suitable for younger audiences. click here to view the video.

Drake even used the word on his twitter account on October 23, 2011, and it had a huge following from other users.

YOLO-1  drake-balcony

Even if Drake was just a regular user on twitter, his words inspired many people at the time and they immediately adapted the word as part of their communication. According to the Two Step Flow Theory, which was coined by sociologist Paul Lazardfeld, it tells us that “we are more likely to be influenced by other people than the mass media”:

 These people are known as opinion leaders, and their audiences are restless in the process of social conversation. The picture of Drake standing on the balcony was symbolic to his audience members, and the words he chose to describe the scenery sticks with his followers. They decided to instantly apply those words to justify their behaviors and lifestyles as well. The word has become so immensely popular, that it has become an official word in the Oxford’s Online English Dictionary:

“You only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, and often used as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behavior)”.

But do not get me wrong, YOLO is not a perfect word.  It can be over used to describe negligent actions:

YOLO-2

and people based their opinions on how notorious the word can be:

Whether good or bad, YOLO has influenced the public in so many ways.

Emojis, the visual images that has a variety of facial expressions and symbols, have also become a part of the written language. It started to become popular around 2008, and many apps were released. Because of the emoji’s simplistic design, it’s become its own sub-language for internet slang.  Emojis have not only been used in messaging, but has grown profoundly popular as lyrics in a song, a narrative for a story, and a plot for a movie. Since it is a sub-language, it opens an opportunity to learn how they work as a whole:

emoji-lyrics   emoji-movie

In forms of popular media, emojis inspired the creation of Emojidick. Created by Fred Benenson; a data engineer, Emojidick is an emoji translated novel that is based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It was published in 2010, and can be purchased as a paperback in black and white or a hardcover in full color as of today.

emojidick  196sove8a2mdxjpg

There was even a parody of emojis on a youtube channel known as Smosh, a web comedy created by Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. Known as “Molestor Moon”, this video showed a darker and creepier side of emojis, and how it can affect friends if its name is mentioned three times through instant messaging.

Disclaimer: Molestor Moon may contain language or visuals that may not be suitable for younger audiences. click here to view the video.

Whether Emojis can be as sophisticated as emojidick or as perplexing as “Molestor Moon”, some of these ideas work for the audience and there are some that turns them off immediately. However, these creations with emojis are being talked about through those audience members. According to Linda Holmes article: What Monkeys Eat: A Few Thoughts About Pop Culture Writing she states that popular topics such as

  “Justin Bieber, Duck DynastyBreaking BadGravity, and — yes — even Miley Cyrus twerking are all examples of what monkeys eat. Some good, some bad, some completely baffling. But all things that are making their way into a lot of people’s thinking, and provoking all kinds of conversations that we might not have otherwise.”

The internet slang is an emerging language, and it has changed written communication for many users of the World Wide Web. Some phrases and sub-languages will fade and disappear, but there will be others that will take their place and last longer.  It is a language that will stay with us for a long time because of the technologies and techniques used that innovate online discussions.

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Robots: The Future is Closer Than We Think

robot-brain

Did you ever want your very own R2D2 in your very house? Those fantasies are quickly becoming a reality. The age of robotics are exploding faster than we realize, and are growing exponentially in the 21st century.  Developers of these newfangled creations are not only programming them to perform certain task, but are building them to learn from human beings and adapt to their way of living. With that being said, are we at that point in which our families and friends can have robots inside their homes?

jibo

Cynthia Breazeal; a M.I.T professor and expert in social robotics, created a family friendly and adorable looking social robot known as Jibo. It is designed to foster special moments, be your personal companion, and politely give you suggestions. Jibo can take pictures of family outings, connects to mobile devices for video chat, and relates to anyone at an emotional level. The prototype was shown in its promotional video of summer 2014, and it has over 8 million views on YouTube today. Jibo is expected to have a public release in summer 2016. But even with all of its distinctive features, how is Jibo a pop culture phenomenon?

The creation of Jibo was inspired from movie adaptations of friendly and helpful robots. In the promo video, it shows a variety of scenes from movies that used friendly robots. The robots in this montage was R2D2 from “Star Wars”, Rosie the robot from “The Jetsons”, and wall-e from Disney’s “WALL-E”. During the montage, the narrator tells us that

“We dreamt of it for years, and now he’s finally here. And he’s not just an aluminum shelf, not is he just a 3 axis motor system. He’s not even just a connective device. He’s….one of the family.  “

It is referring to those previously mentioned robots that many of us wish were real.  This closing remark from the video reinforces the idea that people fantasized over robots that not only comes to one aid, but connects to humans with emotive responses. Because of those emotive responses, it allows Jibo to become like a human being. Not an actual human being, but really close to one. “It’s really important for technology to be humanized,” says Cynthia Breazeal from the New York Times article A Robot with a Little Humanity, “the next stage in computing, the next wave, emotion.”

Rosie R2-D2_Droid 41VUe6MLvIL

However, with so much that Jibo is trying to offer, is it too good to be true? Is the hype for Jibo and similar social robots a little too exaggerated?

Millions of viewers were so over-joyed by Jibo’s functionality when the video launched on “YouTube”. This video was a pure example of introducing new technologies that brings out the fascinations in its viewers. These audience members become so intrigued by the videos first impressions, and becomes enlightened by Jibo’s lively responses.

Jibo-views

Mark Federman; a Chief strategist from the Mcluhan Program of Culture and technology, wrote an article known as What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?. Throughout the article, Federman deciphers and interprets the meaning of Marshal Mcluhan’s(a canadian philospher from the 1960s who studied communication theory) book Understanding Media. He states that:

“McLuhan tells us that a “message” is, “the change of scale or pace or pattern” that a new invention or innovation “introduces into human affairs.” (McLuhan 8) Note that it is not the content or use of the innovation, but the change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it.”

What these means is that any invention and innovation has to appeal to the general public by feeling real and natural. If they are able to do that, then audience members will be dazzled by it. For the Jibo video, the message it was portraying was that Jibo’s responses will feel natural when someone talks to him or even ask him for some suggestions. That in itself already boosts our trust in this adorable looking robot.

But on the other hand, we have to be aware that this is just a promotional video and that Jibo is a working prototype.

To further explain, CNN gave its opinion on Jibo in an article entitled Move over Siri, the Jibo robot is coming. It states that:

“There is, however, much Jibo can’t do yet, so keep your expectations in check. Jibo does not think independently. He is not going to be your personal butler, or dinner date.”

The video above is from CNN’s article on Jibo

Even Cynthia’s team of developers  knew that the video delivered a lot of features, and not “… everything in the video will necessarily be there at launch…(From Jibo’s website under FAQ’s)” . So it is still too early to tell what Jibo is fully capable of. But, that doesn’t mean we should give up our hopes up yet. We’ll have to wait and see if it can deliver its uniqueness in 2016.

Robots like the Jibo are slowly becoming a reality. Today, having a population of robots is still in early development. It is too soon to release them all across the US, or even across the globe. However, there are brilliant minds that are experts in robotics and are trying to implement their knowledge in creative ways. Researchers and scientists are trying to teach robots to understand humans, and adjust to certain real-life situations. Ten to twenty years from now, we will be able to live in a world where humans and robots cohabitate.